In the morning we flew to Baltra Island where Galapagosâ€™ airport sits on the formerÂ U.S. air base built during WWII to defend the Panama Canal. There we met Tanya,Â our licensed National Park guide for the whole trip. As expected, a good portion of theÂ Galapagos adventure consisted of a lot of sight-seeing. The bus ride south included stopsÂ for hikes at geological features such as volcanic craters and locations known for havingÂ the huge Galapagos tortoises. These were the first of many great photo opportunities we
had during the trip. (photo above)
The bus eventually dropped us off at the relatively new Galapagos Safari Camp thatÂ would be our base for sleeping, breakfasts and dinners for our stay in the islands. TheÂ main building serves as the lobby and main dining room; the sleeping facilities are heavy-duty tents on high raised platforms. Each tent contains hotel-grade beds, storage cabinetsÂ and a writing table. Each also has a complete private bath with its own propane water-heater and an outside deck with table and chairs. With the National Park borderingÂ to the north, there are unobstructed views across the island all the way to the ocean.Â Superb meals were served in the dining room, prepared by their trained chef who talkedÂ to us before each meal explaining what we were going to be served. I had hoped toÂ have Ecuadorian tamales some time on the trip. That wish was fulfilled as two of ourÂ breakfasts included them.
Our first full day featured visit to an organic coffee farm followed by an hour stop forÂ swimming at beautiful Garrapatero Beach. We went into town for a typical EcuadorÂ lunch at a restaurant in town.Â The first adventure was a speedboat trip to land on a white-sand beach with mangroveÂ trees and numerous marine iguanas. While there, we did simple snorkeling with just theÂ mask and tube, and then went on a nature hike to see the flora and fauna.
Our second day included several adventures, starting with a boat voyage to some smallÂ islands off the coast of Santa Cruz. There we saw crabs, sea lions, land iguanas andÂ numerous types of sea birds. We hiked along the top of the cliffs and saw many birdsÂ nesting below us. I was happy to see a blue-footed boobie bird. The pelican-sized birdÂ is white but its legs and webbed feet are bright blue. After lunch on the boat we sailedÂ to a rocky area below a cliff where the water was calm. There we snorkeled with the full
compliment of gear including wet-suit and flippers. The ocean was full of assorted fishÂ with sea urchins below on the rocks. A couple friendly young sea lions joined us andÂ showed off by turning summersaults in the water.
I have come to fully realize how great professionally guided Adventure Vacations canÂ be. We had a very full schedule, saw and did many things, but the events happened onÂ time and there was time to unwind between the end one adventure and the start another.Â Time was always available for taking photos, something very important to me. MealÂ breaks were at the appropriate hours without a rush to get back on a horse, bus or boat.Â We always had at least an hour back at our lodging before dinner to clean up, then afterÂ a leisurely meal, a comfortable area to relax and chat with others. If I had the ability toÂ schedule transportation, activities and meals in a foreign country, this would have beenÂ exactly the way I would have wanted it. At age sixty-six, I had initially been concernedÂ about my ability to do all the adventures and keep up with others. I discovered that theÂ adventures on this trip were all geared toward the thrill rather than difficulty, for me “the toughest part isÂ going home.”